328 West Conan Street, Ely, Minnesota 55731

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Five Safety Reminders for Winter Activities

Winter in the Ely area transforms our surroundings into a breathtaking canvas of snow-covered landscapes, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy a wide variety of cold-weather activities – everything from snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to ice fishing, snowmobiling, kick sledding and more. 

As winter settles in, EBCH hopes you’ll relish cold-weather activities while still keeping safety at the forefront. Here are five essential winter-safety reminders to keep in mind this season.  

1. Proper Heater Usage for Campers, Garages and More 

Gas and propane heaters can deliver comforting warmth in frigid temperatures, but they necessitate careful use. Always follow all manufacturer guidelines closely, keeping heaters away from flammable materials. 

Adequate ventilation is crucial when using these heaters indoors to prevent carbon monoxide accumulation. Investing in carbon monoxide detectors for enclosed spaces adds an extra layer of safety. Turn off heaters when they’re not in use, especially before bedtime, to create a secure environment. 

For camper heaters, it’s vital to choose one that is designed for indoor use, such as portable electric heaters or vented propane heaters with built-in safety features. Maintaining a clear space around the heater reduces the risk of accidental fires, ensuring a safe cocoon of warmth. Correct usage, regular maintenance checks and emergency preparedness also help complete the equation for a cozy and secure winter-camping experience.  

2. Commonsense Cold-Weather Sports Tips 

Cold-weather sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and kick sledding offer a serene connection with nature – especially in the beautiful Ely area. However, it’s crucial to apply some commonsense measures when venturing out for cold-weather activities like these.  

It’s important to dress appropriately. Layer up to stay warm, and opt for bright colors, so you can remain visible against the winter backdrop. Ensure your phone or other mobile device is fully charged. Consult the weather forecast before you go out, and if you’re planning to go solo, make sure to share your plans with someone trustworthy.  

3. Practicing Snowmobile Safety 

Exploring the winter wonderland on a snowmobile can be a thrilling adventure – but safety is paramount. Always wear a helmet to safeguard against unexpected mishaps. Dress in bright colors to enhance visibility, especially in extremely snowy conditions. Make sure your phone or other mobile device is fully charged to ensure you have a readily available communication method.  

Stick to designated trails or safe spaces, so you can avoid potential hazards like tree traps. And of course, always make sure your snowmobile is properly fueled up before your journey. 

4. Heat Cars Safely and Securely 

Winters demand early starts to warm up vehicles, but it’s imperative to do so safely. Never start a car in a closed garage, as this can lead to carbon monoxide buildup.  

Before turning the key, clear snow from the exhaust pipe to maintain proper ventilation. You may also want to check for animals seeking warmth under your hood, near the engine’s heat.  

Use an efficient ice scraper to ensure clear visibility through windows. Regular vehicle maintenance, including checking antifreeze levels and tire conditions, is also vital for safe winter driving.  

5. Using Ice Houses Safely  

Ice fishing is a cherished tradition in Ely, as the area beckons enthusiasts to the many frozen lakes in this region. However, for those setting up ice houses, care and consideration are key.  

It’s crucial to check ice thickness, as solid ice is the foundation of a secure setup. Use an ice auger or an ice chisel to determine depth. A minimum of four inches of clear ice is generally considered safe for one person, but thicker ice is advisable for groups or larger structures.  

Choose a location away from crowded areas, and watch out for any signs of stress cracks, pressure ridges, open water or areas with varying ice thickness.  

Ensure proper ventilation within the ice house. This will create a steady flow of fresh air and also prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. It can be worth it to invest in an ice house equipped with ventilation systems, but you can also crack a window or use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.  

Keep essential safety equipment, like a first aid kit, a flashlight and extra blankets, within reach. 

These precautions seem small, but they can go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe. EBCH hopes you enjoy winter-weather activities, while always keeping safety top of mind

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